HISTORY OF DR. FATE
In the golden age, Doctor Fate was just an extremely power and mysterious sorcerer. He never removed his golden helmet and there was no Kent Nelson. Then during his run in More Fun Comics, Doctor
Fate finally removed his helmet, admitting he was just a mortal named Kent Nelson and obtained his power from Nabu, a million year old being from another planet. At this time, he more or less started to fight regular menaces rather than awesome occult forces. Shortly after that, he switched to his second helmet (the half helm) and became more or less a conventional superhero. Gardner Fox's original name for Doctor Fate was actually Doctor Droon but Fate had the last say.
The Order/Chaos idea was introduced only in the 70s (I guess someone had been reading Moorcock), and the helmet as a separate entity was introduced only then.
Nabu was a major god of the Assyro-Babylonian pantheon, second only to Ashur, and, later Marduk. he was the secretary of the gods and patron of the art of writing. His symbols were the clay tablet and the stylus. He was commonly referred to as the God of Wisdom.
- Dr. Fate began wearing gloves in More Fun Comics #63
- Dr. Fate also had an orange cloak (instead of yellow) in More Fun Comics #61-62.
- Dr. Fate's half-mask began in More Fun Comics # 72. In that issue, he also re-defined his abilities. He was practically invulnerable, he said, because he was composed of "molecular energy" but he could suffocate if he did not receive air. This issue also featured his magic ring! This appears to be its first appearance. The ring can see crimes being committed and even had a sort of shiny "screen" in which the images appeared. (This appears to have been streamlined so that the ring merely tracked criminals, see More Fun Comics # 98, but the two ideas are closely related. What is a fleeing felon but a crime in progress?)
This issue also re-introduced Dr. Fate's crystal ball, which was earlier described in More Fun Comics # 69 as a globe of "white onyx" (a more mystical substance I cannot imagine). Also add to your magical weapons a bag of magic powder Dr. Fate carried in
More Fun Comics # 57 which, with the right incantation, allowed him to pass through ensorcelled stone.
Before the dawn of man, the earliest sentient beings in the universe were the Lords of Order and the Lords of Chaos. For millennia these godlike beings waged war against each other, while watching the universe grow in this endless struggle between chaos and order. The Lords of Order were originally from the planet Cilia while the origin of the Lords of Chaos is unknown. A Lord of Order named Nabu realized that the Lords of Order were increasingly becoming distant from the universe and their assistance to mortal beings was diminishing. Nabu challenged his fellow Lords to rectify this, but was banished to Earth for even contemplating such an outrageous thought. Nabu noticed the taint of chaos that slowly raged across Earth and decided to become planets defender. Taking on the form of an Egyptian mage, Nabu seeked the Pharaohs of Egypt to become their advisor and defender. An Egyptian priest named Khalis (1st Issue Special #9) prayed to the god Anubis for unspeakable power in order to rule over Egypt. The god Anubis (A Lord of Chaos) heard the prayers of Khalis and gave him the amulet of Anubis to destroy Nabu. Nabu fought the evil priest and eventually defeated him but rather then destroying him, Nabu had the priest mummified alive as punishment.
Nabu recovered the amulet of Anubis, knowing that it would increase his earthly powers and eventually that of Doctor Fate. In all of Nabu's time in ancient Egypt, he was only defeated once, and that was by the wrath of God when Moses led his people out of Egypt. Over the centuries Nabu had grown weak from battling chaos and eventually put himself into a deep sleep (a state of suspended animation) where he would await the boy named Kent Nelson. (See Nabu)
Almost five millennia later a young boy named Kent Nelson was born in 1928 (post-crisis) to Celestine Babcock Nelson, a spiritual and Sven Nelson, an archaeologist. Kent's mother died sometime after his birth under unknown circumstances. Kent's destiny was already written and at the age of 12, his sheltered life would soon change. It was the early 1940's and Sven Nelson had decided to take his son on a dig to the Valley of Ur in Mesopotamia to an archaeological site. The natives were too scared to enter the temple, fearing curses and the wrath of god which did not disturb Sven Nelson. Sven and Kent ventured into the temple of Nabu the Wise that would forever change their lives. Kent wandered around the temple and stumbled upon an ancient sarcophagus containing the giant body of Nabu the Wise, an ancient Egyptian sorcerer. Kent felt that he had to pull the lever that was keeping Nabu asleep after a hundreds of centuries. After pulling the lever that kept Nabu in suspended animation, a poisonous gas swept through the temple and killed Sven Nelson but left Kent unharmed. As gratitude for his release, Nabu would offer to teach the boy unlimited power. Kent did not want this power but only to have his father back but with a wave of his hand, Nabu had removed all knowledge of Sven's death from the boy. Within that week, Nabu had transformed Kent into a full grown man and taught him the ways of mysticism. Nabu's last wish was for Kent to release all his power on his master, Kent could not kill his master as he had grown attached to Nabu the Wise. Nabu made a gesture of his hand and Kent remembered that the gas that freed Nabu had killed his father. In an angry rage, Kent summoned all his power to destroy the murderer of his father. Nabu's true origin was revealed to Kent, Nabu was a energy being , a Lord of Order. As a final gift, Nabu gave Kent a golden helmet and an amulet that would allow him to fight the never ending battle of Order and Chaos. (More Fun #67, Secret Origins vol. 2 , Secret Origins #24 and All-Star squadron #47)
During Kent's first adventure as Dr.Fate, he fought his first adversary, the evil sorcerer Wotan and rescued Inza Cramer from his evil clutches. Kent fell in love with Inza and they soon married. (The true power of Dr.Fate was for man and woman to be joined but Nabu had blocked the process so he could control Kent. Thus the trinity of Inza, Kent and Nabu could not be performed) During the 1940's Dr.Fate was one of the first mystery men and later helped found the Justice Society of America. (See JSA) During this time, Kent found the helmet becoming more and more possessive of him, so rather than abandoning his crime fighting, Kent opted for the half helm. Although Kent's powers were severely limited, he still had the ability of flight, invulnerability and super strength. In All-Star Squadron #27-30, Kent donned the helmet on one last time in order to find the missing Spectre. After a battle with the Spectre, the helmet was lost and would not be recovered till the early 1960's. In the 1950's Kent Nelson had retired his fate persona and became a physician. It was not until the 1960's (Silver Age) that Kent would once again become Dr.Fate in the annual team ups with the Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America. It should also be noted that Nabu had sustained both Kent and Inza's youth that made them immortal, always staying in their mid 20's. Inza and Kent also received a small portion of Ian Karkulls power in All-Star Squadron annual #3 which gave them more vitality.
LANDMARK ISSUES OF THE GOLDEN AGE
- More Fun Comics #55 (First Appearance of Dr. Fate)
- More Fun Comics #56 (Dr. Fate's first cover)
- More Fun Comics #72 (Dr. Fate's new helmet)
- More Fun Comics #98 (Last issue of Dr. Fate)
- All-Star Comics #3 (First Appearance of the Justice Society of America)
Kent Nelson finally went into retirement in the late 40's and the Fate persona was put to rest. During this time, Kent Nelson pursued hs archaeological interests and became a famous surgeon. It was not until the early 1960's that Dr. Fate and the Justice Society of America came out of retirement to face another Crisis. Dr. Fate continued to fight besides his comrades for the next twenty five years from the dark world of Apokolips to the Crisis on the Infinite Earths. Dr.Fate was also the founder of new Justice League (Legends #6) where he and the Justice League foiled the plans of Darkseid to turn the people of earth against heroes.
LANDMARK ISSUES OF THE SILVER AGE
- Justice League of America #21 (First silver-age Appearance of Dr. Fate)
- Justice League of America #22
- Justice League of America #95 (Reprint of Dr. Fate's origin from More Fun Comics #67)
- Justice League of America #158 (Death of Mister Terrific)
- Showcase #55 (Dr. Fate and Hourman team-up)
- Showcase #56
During the late 1980's (Dr.Fate mini-series 1987) chaos and order were at it again. Inza had committed suicide and Kent was giving up the will to live, Nabu had to find another host body. Kent's last Justice League mission was in JLI #7. This was the final age and chaos was destined to control the universe. During decades of battling evil, Kent's body became greatly weakened and began to age rapidly. Nabu had discovered a young boy named Eric Strauss to take the mantle of Dr.Fate but Eric could not handle the transformation. Nabu let Kent die and used his body to become Kent, always insisting that he was Kent not Nabu. Nabu had become the mentor for Eric and Linda. Eric was dying, so Nabu eventually told Eric and Linda the secret of Dr.Fate. Eric and Linda Strauss assumed the mantle of Dr.Fate for a limited time. (JLI #10 and Millennium mini-series)This gained the attention of Darkseid and he summoned them to Apokolips. Thousands of parademons fought Eric and Linda as there were now two Dr.Fates, one male and one female. However with the power of love, Eric and Linda defeated Darkseid but the final insult was yet to come. A lone parademon injured Eric with a spear. Not even Darkseids power could save Eric and he eventually died on Earth. Linda, now assumed the mantle of Dr.Fate and searched the universe for Eric's soul. Eventually she discovered the secret of their lives and both Eric and Linda were reincarnated, destined to meet again. Even Nabu chose to become truly human by sending his spirit into an unborn child.
LANDMARK ISSUES OF THE MODERN AGE
- All-Star Squadron #47 (Origin of Dr. Fate)
- Dr. Fate #1-4 Mini (Death of Inza/Kent Nelson - new Dr. Fate)
- Dr. Fate #25 (Return of Kent & Inza Nelson - new Dr. Fate)
- Justice League #5 (The Gray Man)
- Justice League #6 (The Gray Man)
- Zero Hour #3 (Depowering of Dr. Fate)
- Fate #0 (Death of Kent & Inza Nelson)
- Book of Fate #1
- JSA #4
However the original Dr.Fate was not dead, both Kent and Inza were living in the amulet of Anubis. They even had their own child but Inza refused to leave the amulet. The Nelson's son eventually convinced them that if they leave the amulet they could have a real son. Inza agreed and both Kent and Inza were reborn. The return of Kent and Inza Nelson happened in Dr.Fate #25. Kent and Inza could now become Dr.Fate together but the Lords or Order and Chaos had other ideas. Rather then letting both of them transform into Dr.Fate, a Lord of Chaos blocked the transformation and only allowed Inza to become Fate. A Lord of Order named Shat-ru tried to destroy fate but his energies were transformed into Kent's old body. Inza became a people's hero, solving the most trivial problems with her own touch of class. Kent even got his old job back as a lecturer at a university. They gave up their secret identities and tried to live normal lives, Kent making friends in his neighborhood while Inza had a special friendship with Wonder Woman. While Shat-ru was beginning to like the idea of being truly human. The Lord of Chaos confronted Inza and told her that he was the one who gave her the power of Fate. Inza realized that this was now wrong. Her power originally came from the Lord of Chaos but the true power of Fate came from the all the sentient beings of Earth. After banishing the Lord of Chaos to the plane of Order, Shat-ru was transformed into a new Lord of Order with human emotions. Dr.Fate now belonged to Kent and Inza and their power came from the sentient beings on earth and not from the Lords of Order or Chaos.
This would soon end in Zero Hour (Zero Hour #3) where Extant would mercilessly kill Hourman, Atom and Dr.Midnight while stripping Kent and Inza of their power. Extant aged the JSA back to their correct age, reversing any effects that Ian Karkull had bestowed upon them while the Nelsons lost the power of fate that had kept them young. The helmet of nabu was lost yet again and would soon be found by Jared Stevens a treasure hunter. Kent and Inza came looking for the helmet from Jared and summoned themselves and Jared to Tower of Nabu in Salem. Kingdom had sent two of his followers in search of the helmet, Bloodstain and Thunderspawn would soon arrive. Kent explained to Jared the story behind the helm of Nabu, the amulet of Anubis and the cloak of destiny but Jared ignored their warnings. The towers defences had failed and Bloodstain and Thunderspawn had entered the Tower in search of the helmet which contained much arcane power. The Nelsons fought valiantly but Bloodstain was absorbing their life energies and the Nelsons were vanishing rapidly. Before departing Inza said to Kent "Let go, dearest...whatever lies beyond...we will be together. Kent realized that it was Jared's turn to take on the mantle of Fate, "A dangerous future awaits you Jared Stevens" said Kent and in a bright light the Nelsons finally parted this plane.
Jared fought the creatures of the dreadlands and the amulet of nabu was crushed in his hand by Thuderspawn. The tower exploded in a white burst of light and Jared found himself having visions of his future self in the Dreadlands. Injured during the battle, Jared used the cloak of destiny as a bandage around his arm and was soon summoned by Nabu. Nabu wanted to use Jared the same way he used Kent, Jared the host and Nabu the controller but Jared refused. The amulet had become part of Jared and not even the Lord of Orders powers harm him. Nabu recognized defeat and left his plane to allow Jared to melt down the helmet of nabu into a blade and some throwing ankhs. Jared returned to Earth but had a strange mark on his right eye, a red ankh. Jared eventually defeated the hordes of Kingdoms and Kingdom himself while making other enemies such as Charnelle. Only recently has Charnelle realized that Jared is not tainted by Kingdom's legacy and she is considered an alley of Fate. Weeks after Jared became the new Fate, he came under criticism by the mystic heroes of the DCU such as Bloodwynd, Phantom Stranger and Alan Scott the original Green Lantern now called Sentinel. Jared Stevens is still quite active in the DCU, taking part in Underworld Unleashed while making strong alliances with the mystic heroes of the DCU such as Sentinel and Zatanna.
During the reign of the new Fate, Jared was unknowingly assisted by the spirits of the Nelsons. Kent and Inza possessed the following people; the bag lady, a bodyguard of L'Infern, a motorcycle cop, Teo and Eric & Linda Straus to assist Fate. (See Hand of Fate storyline) The Cosmic balance was in danger and Kent and Inza possessed Eugene and Wendy to speak to Nabu the child. After escaping from Cantrip's men in black, Jared found himself in a dreamworld where he was reading the book of Fate that told that he was going to destroy the world. Pharoah asked Fate to choose between light or darkness, obdience or rebellion & life and death. Pharoah is an immortal, a god who has been helping man grow but needs Fate to work by his side as Nabu once did. The Nelsons talk to Nabu and Kent gives him the half helmet where he, Raina (Eric & Linda's daughter) and Nabu touch the helmet and suddenly vanish in a bright light. Inza is outraged and seeks help from Sentinel. Fate eventually arrives at Pharoah's kingdom and tells Jared his story when the real Dr.Fate appears (Kent/Raina and Nabu) seeking Fate's power.
Fate eventually defeats Nabu and plunges his knife of order into the helm of Doctor Fate, nullifying Nabu's power and reverting him into his former child body. Nabu is summoned before the Lords of Order and Chaos to explain his actions. Nabu is outraged that Order and Chaos have developed a truce and will not accept this. The Lords of Order ask the the Lords of Chaos for judgement and find Nabu guilty of his crimes. Nabu is transformed into a Lord of Chaos and his final duty is to find a replace for his standing in the Lords of Order. Nabu seeks Kent Nelson to become a Lord of Order but denies Nabu, saying that one life time is all Nabu will get from him. Nabu is outraged by Kent and curses the Nelsons to walk the earth as wandering spirits, never finding eternal peace. However, with help from the Spectre, the Nelsons are allowed to enter the gates of heaven to finally discover eternal peace.
During the end of the 20th century, a being of immense power arrived on Earth and begun the systematic slaughter of all known agents of Order & Chaos in an attempt to steal their powers. This Dark Lord was called Mordru and is a sorcerer of tremendous powers. Mordru has been gathering mystical artifacts from every world that he encounters. However, one mortal on Earth discovered the darkness that threatened the planet, the man called Wesley Dodds who was cursed with the powers of divination through his dreams. (See JSA Secret Files #1)
Dodds travelled to Mount Kailash in western Tibet with long time friend Speed Sanders to meet the mysterious Gray Man. Through his dreams, Dodds learned that a new Doctor Fate was about to be born who's very life would be threatened by the Dark Lord. The Gray Man, a servant of Order told Dodds that there were three unborn souls that Nabu's power may yet take root. One of these children would become the new Doctor Fate and Dodds had to protect this child from the hands of the Dark Lord. After receiving information from the Gray Man, Dodds sent Speed Sanders away to inform the Justice Society. Dodds knew that the Dark Lord would be watching, so he waited for him. The Dark Lord soon appeared and demanded Dodds to tell him where the child would be born. Dodds sacrificed himself by leaping from the mountain, thus saving the child and maybe the world.
Speed Sanders informed the surviving members of the Justice Society of America and now a waiting game begins. It is believed that the Dark Lord has aligned himself with the Sons of Anubis to help retrieve Earth's most powerful mystical artifact, the artifacts of Doctor Fate. The first known victim of the Dark Lord was Kid Eternity while the second victim was Jared Stevens, Fate!. (See JSA #1) When Fate was killed his powers and artifacts were mystically summoned to the Tower of Fate which exists in all realms of existence.
In a bid to save the child from Mordru, the JSA began a frantic search for the fate child. The child would be recognized by an ankh birthmark on his right arm. The JSA eventually found the child, only to be repelled by Mordru who takes the child and leaves for the Tower of Fate. (See JSA #2) Mordru knew that by taking the child to the artifacts of fate, he would be transformed into a man which would then manifest the powers of fate into the newly born Doctor Fate. Before this transformation could be completed, Mordru would intervene and steal the powers for himself. When Mordru arrives, he discovers that The Scarab (Louis Sendak), is already in the tower and is guarding the artifacts of Fate. Mordru defeats the Scarab and prepares to kill the child, only to be intercepted by the new Star Spangled Kid, who makes a valiant attempt to stop him.
However, with the help of the new Hourman, the JSA arrive and engage Mordru in combat who easily dispatches them. As Courtney watches the final moments of the battle, she hears a "voice" calling her towards the artifacts of Fate. As she nears the artifacts, she is drawn into the amulet of Anubis, into another world. Courtney is greeted by Kent Nelson who tells her that he and Inza are between worlds and has no interest in assuming the mantle of Dr. Fate again. Kent tells Courtney that he is only assisting in the birth of the new fate and that another "old soul" will become Fate. He tells Courtney that it is up to her to save the child by retrieving the Scarabeus from Scarab and to use this artifact on the child's' chest. Courtney is returned to the tower, in time to see Mordru about to kill the child. As Mordru is distracted, Courtney retrieves the Scarabeus from Scarab and uses the artifact on the child's chest that instantaneously transforms the child into a new Doctor Fate. (See JSA #3)
As the JSA slowly recovered from their battle with the Mordru, they saw the newly born Dr. Fate in a battle of spells with the Dark Lord. They valiantly tried to assist the new Dr. Fate but were once again defeated by Mordru. As Dr. Fate battled with Mordru, they traveled through the different realms of existence that the Tower occupies. Unknown to Dr. Fate, Mordru had secretly cast a counter spell that was draining the powers of Dr. Fate and feeding into his own powers. Mordru striked at Fate with a final spell that forced the new Dr. Fate to lose control of the artifacts of Fate which allowed Mordru to retrieve the items. Mordru dons the artifacts of Fate and finally gains the powers of Nabu. However, the Dark Lord's victory is short lived as the artifacts of Fate crush Mordru and banish him to the netherworlds of the Amulet of Anubis.
As Hector Hall collects the artifacts of Fate, Nuklon recognizes his old friend from Infinity Inc. Their reunion is brief as Kent Nelson appears and congratulates Hector on the task he performed. Kent tells Hector that his powers are evolving and that he is now an agent of balance. His role as Dr. Fate will not be easy but Kent Nelson will be around to help guide his steps and can always be reached through the amulet. Hector dons the artifacts of Fate and gathers the Justice Society and in a blink of an eye, he returns them to the JSA headquarters. Hector then explains to the JSA that his former lives were always building to this moment, to become Dr. Fate. A curse had been placed on his parents by Hath-Set, a high priest of Setekh and his birth was a culmination of the curse. He was destined to be born without a soul and be nothing more then a vessel for the real silver scarab who was Hath-Set's agent of vengeance. When Infinity Inc. destroyed the Silver Scarab, Hector's consciousness was sent into the Dreaming and was eventually found by Kent Nelson who told him that the wheel of life had turned and that Hector's destiny was not over but just the beginning. Doctor Fate had returned and so did a new chapter of the JSA.
The "Vertigo" Future
The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman
The Books of Magic pilot-story about the aspiring mage-child Timothy Hunter (black-bound paperback collection from the Vertigo line of DC) has some info on Doctor Fate, specifically a point either 3000 years or
10,000 years in the future when the magics of the helmet have grown corrupted from a receptacle of Order into a force of evil and Chaos. It is worshipped by the people of earth (or at least some of them) as a diety and uses hosts to whatever means the helmet wants unfortunately for the host (of whom the helmet orders to be donned and the worshipper must obey his/her God, after all), the process of wearing the helmet for even a minute or two is quite lethal and the helmet's power ends up melting the poor sod's head.
#: This Future or the Kingdom Come future is not "official" DC History. Although entertaining stories, the future is never set and cannot be written.
There have been twelve different versions of the Dr.Fate persona in the DCU
- Nabu - Came to Earth as an exiled Lord of Order and was quite active in
Ancient Egypt. See Time Masters #6 , 1st Issue Special #9 and any Origin issue of Dr.Fate (Active during Ancient Egypt and the 20th century)
- Dr. Fate I - Kent Nelson and Nabu (Active during the 1940's/1960-1980's)
- Dr.Fate II - Kent Nelson (without the Helmet of Nabu) (Active during the 1940's and early 1990's)
- Dr.Fate III - Eric Strauss (with Nabu and without) (Active during the late 1980's and early 1990's)
- Dr.Fate IV - Dr.Benjamin Stoner became an evil version of Dr.Fate in the limited Doctor Fate mini-series.
- Dr.Fate V - Eric and Linda Strauss (Active during the late 1980's and early 1990's)
- Dr.Fate VI - Linda Strauss (Active during the late 1980's and early 1990's)
- Dr.Fate VII - Kent and Inza Nelson (Active during the 1990's)
- Dr.Fate VIII - Inza Nelson (Powers derived from a Lord of Chaos/and obtains power from sentient beings on Earth) (Active during the 1990's)
- Fate - Jared Stevens (The powers of the Helmet, amulet and cape have been transformed into Jared) (Active during the mid 1990's and currently active)
- Dr.Fate IX - Kent Nelson/Raina(Eric & Linda Strauss daughter) and Nabu - Wanting the power of Fate back from Jared
- Dr.Fate X - Hector Hall